Because the teams were hot from sweeping the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament last weekend, expectations were high for the Vanier Catholic Secondary Crusaders.
However, only one of the two Crusader teams vying for a spot in tonight’s Super Volley finals achieved its goal.
In the Super Volley semifinals at Porter Creek Secondary Thursday evening the senior boys Crusaders team gained entry to the finals with a 25-20, 20-25, 25-18, 25-20 win over the FH Collins Warriors. In the girls’ semi, the Warriors came back from a set down to defeat the Crusaders 23-25, 30-28, 25-22, 26-24.
The two advancing teams will square off against the Porter Creek Rams tonight in the Super Volley finals.
“We were hoping the changes we made would make us successful and in the end they did,” said Warrior girls coach Ken Kuni. “It was a close match; it could have gone either way. It was a hell of a match.”
In the Dawson Invitational, playing a best-of-three setter, the Warriors were ousted by the Crusaders in the girls’ semifinals after taking the opening set. With that memory still fresh, the Warriors changed from playing a 4-and-2 strategy (i.e. with two setters) and switched to a 5-and-1, adding more coverage to the court for Thursday’s game.
“We just had way more covering at the net, which is where we needed it the most,” said Warriors captain and setter Sara Fabbio-Swizdaryk. “And I think that really helped us.”
In the opening set the Crusaders managed to erase five Warrior set points before a net violation lost them the set. Looking down the barrel at a two-set deficit, the Crusaders disposed of three Warrior set points before taking the closest set of the night on a kill from Fabbio-Swizdaryk.
“Our defence: we didn’t give up on balls,” said Kuni. “I think that’s what we do well as a team: we just don’t give up. And our defence brought our offence back into it.”
“I guess high-pressure makes us play better,” added Fabbio-Swizdaryk. “Honestly, I think tonight every player played to the best of their ability.”
For her all-around high-level play, Fabbio-Swizdaryk was named the game’s MVP.
“She’s a hell of a player – there’s nothing else to it,” said Kuni.
In the night’s other four-set battle, the Crusaders’ front line – or phalanx, as it may have seemed to the Warriors – came alive in the third set, blocking almost everything the Warriors could throw at them.
“Our blocking is one of our key things,” said Crusaders boys coach Dwayne Stoker. “If we can get our blocks going then people feel good on the team and it’s kind of disheartening for the other team.”
The Crusaders’ blocking was just what the team needed after the Warriors’ power game came together in the second, coming back from 7-2 to win the set.
“We just couldn’t pass the ball and our defence in the back – we started watching the game instead of playing in it,” said Stoker. “I give credit to FH: they just don’t die. They just want to keep playing and keep swinging.”
“I don’t think the Warriors won the second set as much as we lost it,” added Crusaders setter Jordan Holway, who was named the game’s MVP.
“He distributed the ball well; it wasn’t just to Logan (Gray) or whoever, he spread the balls out to keep their defence guessing,” said Stoker of Holway.
Tonight’s Super Volley finals will take place at Porter Creek Secondary beginning with the girls final at 5:30 p.m. and the boys at 7 p.m.
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